When it comes to shows like The Vampire Diaries that establish such a frenzied pace from the get-go, it’s common for them to start fluctuating in quality after a while. There’s only so much neck-snapping to go around, after all. The fourth season had an incredible start, mostly credited to the third season’s massive ending, but by mid-season things started to get stale. The show focused too heavily on their weaker characters (Tyler), and throwing random plots around hoping one would stick. By mid-season my interest was seriously waning.
Elena’s vampirism was an incredible concept. Her transformation turned a lot of the show’s pre-conceived notions upside down, with the central love triangle establishing a starkly different dynamic. But what I enjoyed most was the moral dilemma that Elena had to face. Not only was she coping with all these new urges and abilities, but she was changing into this dark and powerful creature that’s capable of hurting the people around her. It’s a testament to how well Elena’s character has been written up until now that the show could run with this as heavily as it did. I can’t deny that turning off those emotions that grounded Elena was a great idea; I just wish that the reasons for it happening aren’t just tossed aside.
The rest of the season tripped over itself a little bit. For the show’s entire run the plots have always been pretty out-there in terms of feasibility, but there was always something concrete to hold on to. Season 2 had Katherine and Klaus as big bads, season 3 had the destruction of the originals, but the cure aside, season 4 was devoid of a major thread to tie everything together. A face-less villain only goes so far, and Silas wasn’t written well enough to hold the season up. I did like where things went towards the end though, and by episode 21 it felt like Mystic Falls getting fun again, I just wish the season’s most defining moments weren’t made irrelevant. It was an eye for an eye with Jeremy living and Bonnie sacrificing herself, but it completely reverses the loss of Elena’s brother, which cheapens the entire thing.
Going forward, I think season 5 needs to be radically different. Weaker characters (mostly Tyler) need to be sidelined or removed completely, and now that a good chunk of the cast will be up and leaving to New Orleans and others will be shipped off to college, I think there’s a chance to update the show and shake things up. Relying too heavily on the standard storytelling might be detrimental to The Vampire Diaries at this point. That being said, they shouldn’t let go of what works best for them; paying more mind to the vibrant characters would be a good start. Failing that, maybe a Katherine spin-off wouldn’t go amiss?
Best Episode: The Walking Dead
Best Character: Katherine